Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte on Saturday berated the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) over its “pointless plan” to regulate Netflix and other streaming sites.
The Camarines Sur lawmaker said such an “imbecilic” mindset among regulators only gives legislators reason to view the MTRCB as an “anachronism” that necessitates urgent downsizing via a hefty cut in its 2021 budget, “if not an outright dissolution by according it a zero outlay.”
“MTRCB’s plan to regulate online video streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iflix, HOOQ and Apple TV is a farcical take on censorship that is incongruous with the new world order,” Villafuerte said.
“These regulators should stop wasting taxpayers’ money tinkering with this imbecilic idea, lest they give us legislators enough reason to drastically slash their agency’s allocation, if not give it a zero budget, in 2021 and realign the would-be savings to the government’s Covid-19 response,” he said.
Villafuerte said the idea for the MTRCB to censor online video content is a futile and preposterous exercise, considering that there are more offensive, prurient or obscene materials that anybody with a wifi connection can get hold of on other social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, or on porn sites that are free from official regulation.
The solon pointed out that one legal opinion holds that the MTRCB, given its mandate under Presidential Decree (PD) 1986 issued in 1985, has no jurisdiction over digital video content being offered to online consumers.
In the first place, this law that created the MTRCB was issued by then-President Marcos decades before the global explosion of video-on-demand online services, he said.
Even if the MTRCB, granting for the sake of argument, can prove that it has the legal authority to regulate such online content, Villafuerte doubted whether the MTRCB board has both the resources and manpower to accomplish the plan.
At a recent hearing of the Senate trade committee, MTRCB officials called on senators to grant the Board the authority to regulate online streaming services.